BY JIM THOMAS
Repository sports writer
LAKE TWP. In a Federal League defensive slugfest, LAKE High School still was able to turn the offensive faucet on when needed.
The Blue Streaks defense didn’t let HOOVER wet its whistle too often, either.
LAKE got point production from Mitchell Spotleson, Chandler Vaudrin, Jonny Flower and Alex Belinsky, and its aggressive defense forced 21 turnovers and limited the Vikings to 29 percent floor shooting in the first half of its 60-44 victory.
The defense was the key, LAKE head coach Tom McBride said after his team improved to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the league.
“I think when push came to shove and they wanted to go inside, we were able to get some tips and taps,” McBride said of the 6-5 Spotleson and 6-3 tandem of Belinsky and Caleb Peach in the paint. “Our length helped us inside tonight on the interior.”
HOOVER went just 5-of-20 from 2-point range in the first half as Spotleson, Belinsky and Peach walled off the basket from HOOVER. The trio, plus the 6-3 Vaudrin, had seven blocks and another deflection or two that forced the Vikings to go outside.
“We do have length,” said Spotleson. “The coaches teach us just to go straight up, and make them try and go around us.”
Those long arms netted forced shots that helped the Blue Streaks to a 28-15 halftime lead. It also set the tone for a repeat of their 45-36 win over HOOVER earlier in the season.
“The first half, we didn’t compete very hard,” Vikings head coach Randy Montgomery said after his team dipped to 5-5 and 2-4. “We made some basic, physical mistakes.
“The second half, we competed.”
The only way the Vikings stayed close early was the 3-point shooting of Tony Iero. The junior lefty nailed three straight 3s in the second quarter. He scored his only 2-pointer to open the third quarter and followed with another 3 that got HOOVER within 10 at 30-20.
But LAKE’s defense slammed the door on Iero after that, giving up just two free throws in the final 14-plus minutes. And with starting guard Nick Evans out due to injury and Iero’s 16 points making him the only Viking to score more than 6, they had no match for LAKE’s balance.
Spotleson scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Vaudrin tallied 13 points and Flower and Belinsky each added 9 as they never quit attacking the rim.
While HOOVER struggled inside early, LAKE was 9 of 16 (56.2 percent) from close range in the first half. Baseline drives, give-and-goes off the high post and transition layups gave LAKE good looks at the hoop.
Spotleson, Peach, Flower and Chase Champagne all got layups off either turnovers or running the floor the first half. Then Spotleson and Vaudrin did it in the fourth quarter to the delight of the packed house.
A winded Vaudrin never stopped hustling on the break, cashing in all four shots from the field from in the paint. Spotleson also added eight on two buckets and was 4 for 4 at the line
“It’s really nice because we’re getting some other people (beside Spotleson and Belinsky) to step up,” McBride said. “Jonny Flower getting nine, Chandler off the bench with 13, he doesn’t play like a sophomore. Our floor general, Champagne, was all over the floor.
“I’m just really proud of the kids the way they gutted out that effort.”
Reach Jim at 330-580-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jthomasREP
Lake 60, Hoover 44
HOOVER (5-5, 2-4) Jackson 1 0-0 3, Blyer 1 3-4 5, Candea 1 1-2 4, Drabick 3 0-0 6, Ross 2 0-0 4, Zehnder 0 2-2 2, Iero 5 2-2 16, Shori 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 8-10 44.
LAKE (10-0, 6-0) Flower 2 5-7 9, Champagne 1 0-2 2, Belinsky 2 4-5 9, Oswald 0 1-2 1, Spotleson 6 5-6 17, Peach 2 1-4 5, Kennell 1 0-2 2, Vaudrin 6 0-1 13, Myers 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 16-29 60.
Hoover4 11 13 16 — 44
Lake 11 17 13 19 — 60
3-point goals—Iero 4, Jackson, Candea, Belinksy, Vaudrin. Fouls—Hoover 27-15. Fouled out—none.